Astros outfielder George Springer has become the talk of the Fantasy world. After a slow start after his callup, Springer has exploded in May. The 24-year-old has hit .322/.404/.667, with eight home runs during the month. Though things appear to have turned a corner, there are still a few legitimate reasons to be concerned about Springer's performance moving forward.
The Fantasy Baseball Today guys have already discussed Springer's issues, but it's worth repeating here. One of the biggest reasons for concern when Springer was called up was his propensity for strikeouts. Springer always flashed the ability to hit for power, and rack up steals, but consistently posted strikeout rates around 25 percent. Those issues typically tend to get worse once a prospect reaches the majors.
That's exactly what has happened with Springer. Now that he's being challenged by smarter, more advanced pitchers, his strikeout rate has jumped to 30.6 percent. For comparison, that's nearly identical to Chris Carter's strikeout rate. Adam Dunn is striking out less than Springer right now. Even during his May hot streak, Springer has struck out 30.3 percent of the time.
There are a couple ways to explain Springer's current surge. A .408 BABIP during the month definitely helps matters. That's a lazy way to look at it, though. It's clear Springer has been a much better hitter this month. His line drive rate is way up, and he's putting more balls in the air. After some early struggles, he's making strong contact, and is locked in at the plate. The issue here is that it likely won't last.
When Springer cools off, it's unclear how far his performance will fall. In his first two years, Mike Trout managed to post a .320+ batting average despite a strikeout rate over 20 percent. That's partially due to his ability at the plate, and his speed allowing him to beat out groundballs. It's no coincidence that Trout has a career .363 BABIP. That's much higher than most hitters, but it makes sense given Trout's skill set.
We know Springer has speed based on his minor-league numbers, but asking him to do what Trout did is tough. Springer's strikeout rate is 10 percent higher than the figure Trout posted. Though Springer may be prone to higher BABIPs -- his current figure is .353 -- it's far too early in his career to know what his BABIP should look like.
The strikeout rate is a pretty significant problem. While there's nothing wrong with riding out Springer during his hot streak, he's likely to see some serious decline once pitchers start to adjust. The good thing is, Springer is young. He still has time to adjust, and could cut down on his strikeout rate as he learns how to handle the majors. The chance that happens in the next month or so is a lot to ask, though. He remains a strong start during his current hot streak, but the strikeout issues will eventually catch up to him. If you can find an owner who believes in Springer's current stretch, he's probably a strong sell-high candidate.